I have to admit, as someone who’s fond of the three-run homer, LED light bulbs, and blue jeans, it makes me uncomfortable whenever I find myself agreeing with one George F. Will. But I was feeling his curmudgeonly vibe on one trend recently: the #BringBackOurGirls awareness-raising campaign for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls held by Boko Haram.
Actually, my snark pre-dated his on Fox News Sunday this past weekend: I posted on my Facebook wall I doubted the merciless Islamic terrorist group “gave a [redacted]” about the hashtag on Tuesday.
It’s not that I agree with the assessment that Will offered on the Sunday show: that the hashtag is merely an “exercise in self-esteem.” My view was that many of the people participating in the campaign were doing so without much knowledge or concern about a now-decades long Islamic insurgency in a religiously fractured, depressingly complicated place cobbled together as a nation only by British imperialism. How many of those people would support airstrikes, or special forces raids – or worse – to bring the girls back?
Also, it’s just Twitter. At least spray-painting “U.S. out of X” back in the ’80s required getting a little paint on one’s index finger. What kind of commitment to a much broader cause — the rights of those with two X chromosomes an ocean away — is a tweet?
Well, our editorial advisor Colin Delany’s post on his epolitics blog has me reconsidering at least some of this opinion. He considers the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to be a “spiritual successor” to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” for its awareness-raising power. That book, published more than two centuries into the horror of American slavery, didn’t invent Abolitionism. But it did capture anew the brutality of the institution in the aftermath of the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Or, in the parlance of our time, it was a great awareness-raising moment.